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On Agency, Gender Roles, & Bird’s Eye View of Eritrea’s Revolution

Some articles compel one to write about the article because the subject matter one sense tend to be of monumental import and some other times comments in the Awate Forum beg one to do the same. So, what’s one to do but contemplate or make an attempt to write one that could conceivably combine the two. Both are the aim in this piece: The first is Dr. Sadia Hassenen’s “Reflecting on Eritrean International Women’s Day”*. I realize this is not easy to do for the mere fact that the subject matter that she wrote about she also embodies for she is a woman and yours truly is a man trying to get a grasp of it all. The second has to do with Mahmoud Saleh’s** intriguing commentaries emanating from his personal experience as EPLF combatant. This is primary source that some historians one can easily see salivating for; it is part of the major reason I wanted to include quotes so that it can easily be accessible and researchable in the future if and when one wants to write about that part of our history. Mahmoud divulges information about the revolution and its various moving parts that had to work in a synchronous manner for the revolution to achieve its goals. The other major reason is of personal nature: To flesh out my ideas, which is exactly how I gain clarity. Whatever may remain unclear the sharp minds at Awate Forum will come handy in clarifying it for me. Before delving into the subject matter at hand providing some snippets on notions of communication might prove helpful.

Cultural communications studies expert, Stuart Hall* (1973) developed encoding/decoding model that offers theoretical frameworks by which viewers/listeners (for our purposes, readers) decode their optical experiences. Granted, Hall’s framework was developed for television viewers. However, applicability to the written word these frameworks can be ascertained. For example, he states that “the dominant-hegemonic position” is when audiences decode the message, in its entirety as one to which they not only accept but embrace it; Hall refers to these audiences as “operating inside the dominant code”. There are those who take “negotiated code or position”, which Hall informs us are audiences who are capable of weeding out what’s not important. To the third one Hall refers as “oppositional code” in which viewers interpret most of the messages that are transmitted through mass media as one that must be seen through the frame lens of “class” leading to the most politically active entities who refuse to be bottled and indoctrinated. Granted, Hall (1980/1981) was giving his framework based on optics, but it is easily relatable to when we read some articles, for example, at awate.com. Keep this in mind as you read on to see where your reactions fall. It was noticeable in Dr. Sadia’s article where people fell in the categories provided above.

On Dr. Sadia’s Article

So, the two ideas that preoccupied me as I was actively participating in the said article are the notion of agency between the reader and the author and the role of cultural productions vis-à-vis gender roles. The definition of an agency that I have in mind is not in its philosophical sense; rather of its use in literature, where the writer can claim a certain level of agency in that the craft is intentional with certain goals in mind that the piece of literature is written. But, of course, equally, if not, more importantly, the reader also has an agency in how he/she interprets the piece being read. It is in this dialectical encounter where new ideas germinate. And it is why when readers have a forum to discuss their understanding of an article is, sometimes, vastly different; such differentials in interpretations catch us almost unawares to a point of leaving us baffled at it all. It, of course, comes down to the lived experience. Our lived experiences, at times, dictate how we interpret what we read and how willing we are to interrogate it or simply flat out ignore the writer’s intent (i.e., see Hall’s three frameworks above). Going on a tangent instead of addressing what’s written becomes – conscious or not – a strategy of resistance. Of course, there could be myriad of other reasons as to why one chooses to do that, but overall, the contention here is that it falls in one of Hall’s categories, broadly speaking. It could as well be we show a certain level of resistance to some ideas due to cultural productions that play intricate roles if, for example, the subject matter is about feminism where inter-subjectivity plays a critical role.

Inter-subjectivity pushed Dr. Sadia to bring the issue from its physical space, where our Eritrean women had exclusive gathering which they rightly deemed pertained to them alone and needed no men intervening in their affairs. By all measures, the gathering was a successful one. Dr. Sadia, however, saw certain issues she felt merited discussing out in the open, because, in my estimate, she understood deep down Eritrean feminism would be better served if the issues are brought to this virtual space. Once the physical space was used where women did their program, then the venue needed to move to the virtual spaces like awate.

What’s more befitting than to come to a virtual space where highly enlightened men reside. As we challenge each other, let us also challenge our men to show them where they might be falling short just as we challenge ourselves in finding our shortcomings appeared to me to have been the intent of the article in question. The liberation of Eritrean woman is, after all, a struggle against cultural domination, where men dictate it all: It is in our language. It is in our attitude. It is in the way we men have learned from an early age that they are our inferiors, we, their superiors. The evidence is in a nuanced way – more times than not, blunt ways –  in which we use the language of exclusion, using terms like “they” (as opposed to our Eritrean women) as if they were aliens from us men. Look how niggling they seem to be the unsullied and/or the implied message.

Ostensibly, if we want to change matters the last thing that needs to happen is for each to stay in their corner. The less we interact with each other, the more the gaps in the thinking stays entrenched. If we are going to change our way of thinking we have to have women engaging us, challenging us, and have a conversation with us. The impregnable message appeared to me to be this: Men are also victims of rigid cultural norms that were instilled in them in how to think, how to view women, how to treat or mistreat women according to the cultural dictates. This is not men bashing, but women affirmation, an affirmation that’s long overdue. Do you ever wonder why Awate has not attracted a woman columnist in its 17 years of virtual existence? Am just wondering aloud here.

Much as any kind of discriminatory behavior cannot be addressed without its various elements, feminism in Eritrean context cannot reach its objective without including some of its major elements. In this case, it’s us men who are its major element. The culture, the tradition, art, education, literature, language, politics, economics, all are the domain of men. These domains need to be tackled if the process of liberation is to succeed. The venue needs to change. Change won’t’ be affected if we don’t include the main elements in this: i.e., Eritrean Men. Now, the part of our history used as an exemplar when it comes to gender roles and gender equity is how women were treated equally during the revolution era where and when they fought side by side with the men on equal footing. That narrative has not been told to the extent that it should. All indications are that Eritrean women fighter did it all event in combat. By all accounts, history of that era informs our understanding in our women have done it all, which is a perfect way to make that segue into the era of the struggle not quite to address issues of gender, but the overall picture that our former tegadalay Mahmoud Saleh who paints this highly dynamic, and complex picture of the struggle ea that I want to bring your attention towards.

On Eritrean Revolution and its Complexity

For someone like me who never participated in the struggle reading Mahmoud Saleh’s account in such a picturesque way was an eye-opener. Perhaps, it is my own shortcoming that I didn’t do adequate readings on the subject matter as I should. But, what I found fascinating in the description he provided that the entire setting was a nation within a nation existing in parallel where the occupier and the revolutionaries seldom rubbed elbows; in such a juxtaposition where their only contacts seemed to be when attack and counterattacks were waged. According to Mahmoud, how they communicated and whatever they did had one clear aim: To liberate Eritrea the land from the occupying force. In his own words, here is its essence:

The medium was revolutionary language, theories, culture and anything that goes with that setting. The message was revolutionary aimed at liberating Eritrea. The mediating mechanism was democratic centralism which was even more rigid than in other peaceful situations due to the need for organizational discipline and coherence to win a war in which the EPLF was disadvantaged in all of its dimensions: manpower, firepower, material resources; diplomatic isolation…(Mahmoud Saleh, 19 March 2018, Awate Forum).

They did not stop there. They had thinkers, tinkerers, and ideologues whose job it seemed was toward intellectual proclivity, one that would occupy them as they dwelled over strategies, ideologies, theories, and concepts and even libraries to check books out. Mahmoud states thus:

Revolutions have their theorists and ethos. Their intellectual rigor and contributions should be seen within those parameters … bouts of intellectual challenges like the movement of 73, 76, medical department, manufacturing department (Rahba), mechanized units; war wounded camp (1979-80), and many in between, should be seen within this framework…There was a central research department headed by Hailemenkerious, wherein the traditional meaning of “intellectuals” may be understood. People like former Eritrea’s AG, Ta’ame worked there and where folks like the renowned writer, Alemseged Tesfai, occasionally joined. It prepared studied manuals not only for political agitation but tools for research. Among the tools and studies made I remember include exploring, mapping, preserving Eritrea’s antiquities, studies in Eritrea cultures, languages, socioeconomic status, the genealogical tree of the people of Eritrea, where people from the department of public administration, commonly known, Jamahir, attended for about 6 months; translated massive works of famous theorists and made it readable in relation to Eritrean experience, etc. Alos there were central and departmental libraries. You were not asked what books to read, what radio stations to listen to, etc. There was one of the central libraries in AdobHa, for instance, where I would drop by every three months on my way to halHal. I would take books, and on my return, I would exchange the old for new ones (Mahmoud Saleh, 19 March 2018, Awate Forum**).

What this shows is that EPLF was highly structured organizations with a great deal of functionaries, seemingly forward-looking system. What was absolutely stunning to this writer, a forthright response that Mahmoud gave when I asked, if “there was a department that thought of the day after the fall of Ethiopia, what Eritrea would look like?” Without mincing his words, he said the following:

…while it was ready functionally (administratively, the software part, if you will, or the political infrastructure, such as legally (constitutionally and institutionally bound functional branches of the organization that would ensure checks and balances were not in place. There were no debates on inclusion of others, or preparing for the splintered Eritrean organizations and how you accommodate them; practicing the art of free speech and debates…preparing citizens to check for the boundaries separating them from the government; expecting four Eritrea: EPLF-Eritrea; ELF-Eritrea (with its splinter groups); diaspora Eritrea (with its diversity); Occupied-Eritrea, etc.

…no there was no preparation; and I don’t think there was opportunities to chime on those matters. People were exhausted, particularly, in the last year, and every ounce of energy was dedicated to making the eventual victory as quick and as irreversible. This is where leaders are wanted, to see things that the average could not see. We were not lucky at that”(Mahmoud Saleh, 19 March 2018, Awate Forum).

This about sums it up. Is it conceivable that not a single person or a group from the leadership of revolutionary era did not pay attention to this glaring void? How is it possible an organization that had such highly complex structure to not think of the day after in how it would make smooth transitioning from revolutionary entity to the governance of a nation? These are questions, obviously, that require further research, where interviews would have to be conducted of those who were in charge of the EPLF, many of whom are not only still alive and well, but are in exile living diasporic life.

*Sadia Hassenen (2018). http://awate.com/reflecting-eritrean-international-womens-day/

**Mahmoud Saleh (2018). Retrieved from commentary section: http://awate.com/reflecting-eritrean-international-womens-day/.

***Hall, S. (1980/1981) ‘Encoding/decoding’. In Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (Ed.): Culture, Media, Language: Working Papers in Cultural Studies. London: Hutchinson,

About Beyan Negash

Activist, a writer and I am a doctoral candidate (ABD) in Language, Literacy, and Culture at New Mexico State University (NMSU). I hold a bachelor of arts in English and a master of arts in TESOL from NMSU as well as a bachelor of arts in Anthropology from UCLA. My research interests are on colonial discourse and post-colonial theories and their hegemonic impact on patriarchy, cultural identity, literacy development, language acquisition as well as curriculum & citizenship. The geopolitics of the Horn of Africa interests me greatly. My writings tend to focus on Eritrea and Ethiopia. I have been writing opinion pieces at awate.com since its inception (1 September 2001).

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  • Sarah Ogbay
    • Paulos

      Thank you for the link Dr. Sarah.

      • saay7

        Dr Sarah:

        I hope to have something to say about this but the last time one citizen, Mussie Ephrem and his colleague Liesbeth Zegveld, took the Eritrean regime to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) for violating the freedom of expression opinion, arrest and detention of the G-15, the Eritrean regime lost and lost badly. It got so angry it refuse to file its annual reports as it is required to do since it became a signatory to the ACHPR in 1999.

        Now, if you recall at the last HRC meeting, after it got rightfully spanked to the point where its spokesperson refused to show up, an African representative said it had gotten Eritrea’s report and he looks forward to discussing it in April at the ACHPR meeting.

        The takeaway is this: in any fair fight, the PFDJ is programmed to lose because it stands for oppression, violation of human rights, disappearance, torture and extra judicial killing. Knowing this, it always tips the playing field in its favor: no free press, no opposition, no civil society.

        At the ACHPR meeting it will tell tall tales, but it will be challenged and once again, lose.

        saay

        • Berhe Y

          Dear Saay,

          I think the PFDJ wins in the long run, because people get tired and they drop out of the fight and the PFDJ wins by default (none follow up). In case of Mussie Efrem, I don’t know what happened to him but I have never heard from him ever since. He joined some opposition or went to Ethiopia or something and he disappeared.

          My guess is, in the rule of law (it’s hard, it’s tiring, it’s expensive) but there is always a way to go higher and higher in the chain to seek justice.

          If the pFDJ loses, which will be the case, I am sure, we have to be prepared to fight it to the next level where it will be compelled to be brought to justice.

          Our ultimate goal should be, the ICC to charge Isayas Afeworki and company.. Now even if that happened, it will probably do nothing but we keep increasing the pressure to make it harder and harder for the regime.

          • saay7

            Selam Berhe Y:

            In any movement, you will have some churn, of people falling out and people joining. The only difference between our movement and the PFDJ, there is no penalty for withdrawing from our movement. There is no visa which will be withheld, no coffin that will be denied entry, no power-of-attorney which will be bureaucratized. Conversely, our pockets won’t be picked to support Ethiopian or Somali or Sudanese or Djibouti armed groups. Ours is an all-volunteer army; theirs is an alliance of conscripts and easily-frightened (Weyane is coming! The jihadists are coming!). The same people who were applauding IAs weekly trips to Qatar are now telling us how dangerous Qatar is.

            The second universal law is winning is the best recruitment tool(ask EPLF how many recruits it had in 1990 vs 1985.) I don’t know what happened to Ephrem but I still see what he did positively: he advanced the ball closer to the goal, for somebody else to pick it up. Some young lawyer, somewhere is inspired by what he did. That’s our ultimate goal: to inspire a new generation of fighters. The PFdJites do it by terrifying and blackmailing people; we should do it by presenting a better alternative than present day Eritrea, for which we have a reliable partner, PFDJ, which will always male present day Eritrea worse than yesterday’s Eritrea, every day.

            Didn’t mean to get carried away: it’s iSems fault.

            saay

          • iSem

            Hi Sal and Sarah and BY:
            PFDJ is its worst enemy and the fact that they are still tormenting our people is not because of their strength but because of our weakness, our weakness to organize, our weakness to fight just because it is right to do so, l weakness of not having conflict resolution tools, the partisan mentality of yesteryears all have bearing.
            So BY as you said here, PFDJ are ppl and they have vulnerablities and Sarah said, it is their numbers that is dwindling, not ours despite our dysfunction. And our weakness also includes not knowing our enemy. Every time they won was due to their thuggery and
            I agree fatigue may take hold of the people, but PFDJ will be eventually destroyed and mostly likely self destruct, the question is what do we do in the wake of its destruction, what do we build on its rubble. If you opposed, they used to call you “Agame”, now we call them that. If they did not like you, they used to cal you Jihad, now we call them Jihad. If they hated your guts they used to call you tsere-hager, now we call them tsere hager. Because we hands are clean, theirs are dirty, we did not kill founding fathers, 800 Eritreans did not accuse us of rape and slavery. So if there a group is endangered is PFDJ and its supporters. Morality, corruption, crimes against humanity, torture, container prisoners, you name it. There opposition can only be called incompetent and I will take that any day than rapist, murderer and human trafficker
            Sorry, I was carried away. it is iSems’s fault. I am not kidding, I am not making fun of Sal, it is iSem’s fault

          • Sarah Ogbay

            Hi Berhe,
            Despite what some may tjink about the might of PFDJ and despite all the attempts to dismantle the orgs and groups who seek justice and peace, we are growing stronger. You know why? Because we stand for truth.
            BTW, it is the PFDJ supporters that are the ones getting tired of the lies and consequently shifting their opinions.
            So ሸጥ ማዓንጣ!!!

        • Sarah Ogbay

          Selam Saay.
          Yes it will lose. But we will keep fighting till we see change to the better. Now this long overdue ‘state report’ should be followed by shadow reports on every aspect / area (education, women, media etc.) from civic organizations putting some light on the real PFFJ and their shameless deeds.

    • Amanuel Hidrat

      Thank you Dr Sarah.

      • Teodros Alem

        Selam aman h
        Dr Abiy will be the next pm of ethiopia. Demeke didn’t even run as a candidate.win win.

        • Amanuel Hidrat

          Selam Teodros,

          I am not an Ethiopian and hence I do not have a candidate. However, Who ever come to power, wish him good luck, to bring peace and stabilities for Ethiopia.

          • Teodros Alem

            Selam aman h
            The reason why i said what i said is because u told us …..
            And wait until the official announcement and now they did announce that dr abyi will be the pm.

  • Kim Hanna

    Selam Awatistas,
    .
    I am always impressed with the gifted Awate’s experts matching the articles with images or graphics. The only time I was not impressed was when they put up something of Emperor Haile Sela……..never mind.
    Yesterday, I was going to respond to blink about his contrarian behavior on one of his post in this thread about the lack of diversity of the women fetching water image.
    I must have a touch of his contrarian flu too, because the more I thought about it I wanted to get it out of my chest. Of course, he and I never seem to agree on anything.
    .
    The image of the women bringing water to the family is a powerful reality check of our existence. The picture might be from Eritrea but you can copy and paste it in Tigray, Oromo, Amhara and other regions of Ethiopia without fear of misrepresentation.
    Life in general for these women is at its basic survival mode of existence, perhaps making the majority of the folks. The men in their lives are not that much better off either, they carry their own crosses, so to speak.
    I don’t know if anyone has watched Haile Gebre Selassie’s movie “Endurance” I think. His mother died on the way back fetching water from the near by river. This is not abstract old history, it is current events.
    .
    I sometimes wonder if our language and concepts are relevant and match our circumstances. I get anxious whenever these types of issues are discussed, human rights, women rights, freedom of speech and in the case of blink, diversity.
    Its uncanny resemblance to what the western media and activists propagate concerns me.
    I suppose there is no harm done in espousing high concepts and goals, provided that we don’t forget the lives of the majority of our people.
    International Rivers representative said during the building of the Omo dam that they are fighting against the project to protect the indigenous people and the pastoralists way of life. Meles responded by simply stating that only a western romantic can think like that.
    .
    Their might have been a study conducted that I am not aware of. I would like to know a scientific study that interviewed a 100, 1000 or whatever the statistical bench mark number is of these women to see what the top 5 problems they face. What the order of relief they prefer addressed. I bet free speech, human rights and diversity wont make it, but a water well within 1/2 a mile, healthy water, security most likely will make it.
    .
    A little contrarian statement to all the praise that is being piled on M.S. I don’t want to say too much about his gift of maximizing the minimum and minimizing the maximum. I don’t want the avalanche of words coming at me, I cannot outrun it.
    Sedet lewere yimetchal, He is fit to be a propaganda minister of any African country, he is that good. With that in mind all Awatistas need to read him with a grain of salt. Historian he is not.
    .
    Mr. K.H
    .

    • saay7

      Selamat Ato Kim:

      Last year, UNICEF has a report entitled “Progress on Drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene” which is one of the measures of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), a replacement to the Millenium Development Goals (MDG). It’s a 114 page document and I highly recommend we all read at least the annex*

      What I remember reading from that is, of all the developing countries, there is only one country where the chore of fetching drinking water does not fall on girls and women. And that country is Mongolia. Everywhere else, it is girls and women traveling for long distance to bring water.

      saay

      * If you want to see how bad things are for our two E countries, go to page 66 of the report. Every time PFDJ brags of a well it has built, and its parrot websites showcase the well, I want to scream how little progress it has made in 26 years. And, sorry Kim, it is not that much better in Ethiopia.

      • Kim Hanna

        Selam saay,
        .
        I do appreciate the information. I will look through the jungle of U.N reports for the information.
        Thanks again,
        .
        Mr. K.H

        • Beyan

          Selam Ato Kim & Ato saay,

          I lost my rhythm and my energy along with it to engage in a dialogue after reading the latest Gedab News. I am choosing to preserve my energy as iSem, Berhe Y, saay have mentioned about our fight being one of moral high ground versus the regime’s ineptitude and the incompetencies of the highest order that we see day-in-and-day exacting and costing us infinitely in human terms, it should be okay to hit a brake and enjoy the lighter things of life.

          So, I literally started leafing through what has been written in response to the piece I penned. Here is what I am finding a refuge to shoot the breeze a little and hit the brakes from reading, which will have to wait until I jot what your conversations stirred in me. You’re absolutely right, Kim, not only the commentaries that get generated that are mesmerizing at the awateland, but as you rightly noted, “I am always impressed with the gifted Awate’s experts matching the articles with images or graphics.” It never ceases to amaze either. I wholeheartedly agree with you there.

          Since it is not weekend yet, and can’t share the link, but saay’s footnote about the progreress or lack thereof “… our two E countries, go to page 66 of the report. Every time PFDJ brags of a well it has built, and its parrot websites showcase the well, I want to scream how little progress it has made in 26 years. It is right there on page 66. And, sorry Kim, it is not that much better in Ethiopia.” On the annals of progress, here is where Eritrea is number one: “… the highest rates were recorded. Eritrea has the highest rate at 76 percent, followed by Niger (71 percent) and Chad (68 percent).” I am sure this is teasing saay’s brain silly, what our E can be number one in the world. It’s rather difficult to share without feeling an embarrassment, but I will let the title of the piece tell the story, thereby give you a googling tool should you be inclined to wanna read. Here you go: “Nearly a billion people still defecate outdoors” according to DELANO, LUXEMBOURG IN ENGLISH. Need I say more. Finally, our E is number one in something. Viva Eritrea!!!There you have it. So much for building reservoirs and wells, eh.

          Beyan

  • Sarah Ogbay

    …no there was no preparation; and I don’t think there was opportunities to chime on those matters. People were exhausted, particularly, in the last year, and every ounce of energy was dedicated to making the eventual victory as quick and as irreversible. This is where leaders are wanted, to see things that the average could not see. We were not lucky at that”(Mahmoud Saleh, 19 March 2018, Awate Forum).’
    It is good to give them the benefit of the doubt. We can believe that things happened too fast.
    That was then, this is now, 27-28 years later. Things are getting worse but the minute. We should ponder Why?. We should also think was this planned before liberation- to subdue the people and stay in power and in control? I think we should leave this to objective historians to research on and think hard, like we never did before, what we can do to to get our of this nightmare.

  • Kbrom

    Dear Mahmuday

    This ride will be a little bit rough, so let’s put on the following music in our CD drive.

    ENTA GEMEL LEMEHERBAY

    WO MAHMUDAY LEMEHERBAY

    LEBTHRETKA ARKOBKOBAY

    TEKLE SEBNETKA SONSOLOMAY …….it goes on.

    Sahel as a Nation and EPLF as a Government

    This second part of my feedback is related to Mahmouday’s (kebdu tbred) reply when asked, by Beyan if “there was a department that thought of the day after the fall of Ethiopia, what Eritrea would look like?”. Beyan wrote in his article Mahmoud’s reply as following:

    ”……….no there was no preparation; and I don’t think there was opportunities to chime on those matters. People were exhausted, particularly, in the last year, and every ounce of energy was dedicated to making the eventual victory as quick and as irreversible. This is where leaders are wanted, to see things that the average could not see. We were not lucky at that” (Mahmoud Saleh, 19 March 2018, Awate Forum).

    Dear Harbena Tegadalay Mahmuday –unless Beyanom misquote you, Maelumatek Kathi’a. Im not exactly convinced by what you stated, I think it is inaccurate.

    Tegadplaining

    The world has coined a new word called Mansplaining which means “to explain something to someone, characteristically by a man to woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing”. What I will try in the following post might be considered as ‘Tegadplaining’ : a Hafash Wdbat explaining to a Tagadalay in a manner that sounds patronising – which can also sound ካብ በዓል ጣፍ በዓል ኣፍ! My apology Mahmuday!

    The political wing of the EPLF had been working full time for the preparation of the post independence government or for ‘the day after the fall of Ethiopia’ as Beyan would like to put it, all the way from 1987 -1991. In fact, it was overworking on that topic to the extent that the real struggle was derailed, entered into complacence that lead to exhausting and selfishness, a tragic phenomenon that has never occurred in the history of the EPLF. For the first time in its history EPLF encountered the dangers of having social class, the cashless society of Tegadelti started to be a cash society, some leaders who were asking us to send them Field Jackets rather started to ask us to send them money, camera, radio, milk even chocolate, some women started to shave their eye brows, import Shampoo and Wella etc (not the people in the army but mostly the few but who were in very decisive positions of the organisation departments)

    ኣነ ኣለኒ ምዕራፍ ታሪኽ ኣለዎ ጓሓፍ

    Was there a department that thought of the day after the fall of Ethiopia, what Eritrea would look like? the answer is an emphatic yes! Yes, the EPLF was comprehensively preparing for an inclusive democratic government, in all terms and conditions. Not only the leadership but all the Tegadeltis. When Tegadelti fell shouting for resilience ቃልስና ነዊሕ ኢዩ ዓወትና ግን ናይ ግድን፤ when Wedi Tkull sang ራህዋ ንረኽበላ ሓንቲ መዓልቲ ኣላ, when Isayas Tsegay penned ኣነ ኣለኒ ምዕራፍ ታሪኽ ኣለዎ ጓሓፍ, when Isaias Asfeha sang ህዝቢ ኤርትራ ከም ሓደ ስድራ ዓወት ዓቲሮም ደቅኻ ይመጹ ኣለዉ ናባኻ OF COURSE they were preparing for post independence.

    EPLF had built more industries in Sahel than it has built after independence in the last 27 years. In Sahel it built pharmaceutical industry, does industry, sanitary industry, rifle industry, open heart surgery department, department of electronics, highly sophisticated communication network, best transportaion system and civil and electoral engineering department, Fred Hollows eye lenses contact, research and studies centre, the most effective and efficient department of Human Resources which updates the file of 100,000+ people in realtime.

    What the EPLF (the real) was not prepared for was forming a dictatorial regime.

    Credit Where Credit’s Due

    To give credit where credit’s due, when Mikhail Gorbachev launched his dual program of “perestroika” (“restructuring”) and “glasnost” (“openness”) in 1985, the then deputy secretary IA said in a closed meeting in Nakfa, Italy (yes there was an EPLF office in Rome named after Nakfa) said ‘this man (Gorbachev) will disintegrate the soviet power and the world will enter into a one super power dominated unipolar order’. This is 6 years before Fukuyama’s prescient analysis of the End History.

    In that meeting it was decided that a guided multi party system is the best way forward and that the EPLF should conduct a thorough organizational evaluation in regard to its ideology and military doctrine.

    The second and unification congress of the EPLF and ELF (CL) in 1987 was a one-week convention that heralded the organizational shift of paradigm that involved radical theory changes. In that conference the importance of multi party system was widely discussed, regional and international politics was thoroughly debated, rules that led to constitutional discussion were deliberated and even departments that are related to scientific progress were established.

    The National Democratic Program (1987)

    The National Charter that was adapted in 1994 is based on the National Document that was adapted in that congress. Without exaggeration, the Eritrean National Charter that came out from the documents of the 1987’s congress, is one of the finest charters which focusses on equality, freedom and all the other important pillars. (ኣደራሽሲ ተኣምር ነይሩ እንታይ እሞ ቡሑቕ እንዶ ዘይብሉ ኮይኑ በለ ከልቢ ቤተክርስትያን ኣትዩ ዝብላዕ ምስሰኣነ!)

    The national democratic program that was endorsed in the second congress, had the details of the would be multi party system, private sector led mixed economic and monetary policy, as well as the plans of drafting customary and criminal laws. The drafted civil code was later (1989) distributed into the ranks and files for discussion and voting (yes voting) ኣየ ነበር ሙኻን ክሓስም ይብል ደራፋይ ዑቕባጋብር.

    The Task Forces of Nation Building

    Following the congress, several task forces were formed to submit a white paper on different complex national issues. Our task force (ERA) was assigned to study the working system of UN bodies and international NGO’s. Believe it or not, the guidelines that we were given to our task force from the central office of the polit-bureau was to conduct a scientific research on why the African countries became dependent on foreign aid and what was African countries’ main problem that was impeding them from being self reliant.

    Another task force was assigned to study the authoritative body of statements,concepts, principles, policies, tactics, techniques, and practices simply put the military doctrine, of the worlds most powerful military forces.

    There was another task force which was assigned to study on the structure and function of foreign affairs. A new department of justice, department of finance, external trade, chemistry and industry were formed as part of the tasks of preparation for the post independence government. There was even a discussion about presidential or parliamentary system and structure where many of the participants were pushing towards American structure of having departments and secretaries instead of ministerial structure and ministers (note that this was in 1988).

    There was another task force which was assigned to study as why some African and Latin Americas revolutions failed to deliver their objectives after they won their independence. Nicaragua, Salvadora, Cuba, Frelimo, Zanu/Zapu, MPLA, FNLA, and UNITA were some of the candidates for the case studies.

    According to the EPLF’s leadership evaluation, it was believed that Eritrean independence would be declared in the mid 1989 (few people know that it was EPLF that coordinated the failed coup détat in Ethiopia on May 1989). The second estimation was that EPLF will declare Eritrean independence by mid 1990 before Znam kremti, however, for some Mekalf it did not happen.

    A separate department was formed to handle the new reality in Ethiopia, which had developed a white paper that articulates the new political landscape and the power sharing and coalition between OLF, TPLF and other minor powers. Several meeting were hosted by EPLF in a bid to draft working constitution for Ethiopia.

    The correspondence between IA and Carter Peace centre, the Nairobi and Atlanta peace talks, the final London talks were part of that preparation. Again to give credit where credit’s due, the leadership of the EPLF did not fall in to Mengistu’s trap, when the later through Ato Brhanu Bayeh, minister of Foreign Affairs, offered the EPLF’s leadership the position of Ethiopia’s Vice President and later the position of Ethiopian Presidency in return to giving up the struggle – this is back in 1984-5.

    A New and Inclusive Organisational Structure

    Contrary to what my dear Harbena Tegadalay MS’s assumption that ‘there were no debates on inclusion of others’, the EPLF deeply evaluated its mistakes of not recognizing Hamid Idris Awate as a symbol of the armed struggle and the non inclusive nature of its organizational structure. That decision led to dissolve all the EPLF mass organisations (Hafash wdbat, which infuriated many of us for ever) because the central committee evaluated that EPLF should open its doors to all and that embracing a limited segment of the Eritrean society is not broadening the organisational diversity. The decision of inviting all organizations to the second congress and to Bologna Festival (1987), which was convened under the theme ‘for an inclusive and broad organizational structure’ was part of the all-encompassing efforts.

    What Did We Get?

    Revolutions and war generals are tested in peace time – unfortunately, most often, the peaceful environment and the cities become the graveyard of revolutions and generals, thus as most revolutions the Eritrean revolution and the leaders dedication died when it reached on the peaceful time and the no war place – the rest, as they say – is not history, it is disaster.

    • Ismail AA

      Selam Kbrom,

      To me, this is an enlightening coverage about the EPLF’s state of affairs during the last phase years years before 1991. Abortion of such pervasive and comprehensive plan is hard to imagine given the forces and resources that had been mobilized and deployed, as you have enumerated. The organization had been set in operation on all levels.

      A neural reader of your post cannot but observe that there could have been two centers of power operating in parallel. The real one that produced the current regime and a shadow of it that was set in motion to camouflage the intentions of the group that had tight hold of the strings in the organization. So, after reading the post to the end, I felt I was at cross road after anticipation some light on how and when things took an ominous turn. Unless you intended to come with a follow up on this last point, I would love if you could grace us on why and when that promising process failed.

      • Kbrom

        Dearest Ismail,

        Thank you for raising the one million dollar question, what went wrong, where and when.

        Initially I wanted to wright then I decided to refrain, for a number of reasons. But yes it was not only a rosy picture, there was a force that was preparing for the abortion of the pervasive plan, parallel to the events that I tried to explain.

        • Ismail AA

          Dear Kbrom,
          Thank you. I understand your point.

    • Mez

      Dear I from,

      1) Is any thing left over from what you said?
      2) If you ask me, nothing what resembles to it.
      3) it is hard to know what the leadership of an organization may want do. Thousands of unknown variables. It will stay always unknown.
      4) but you can always get an idea from what they implement and do.
      5) What is next?

      Thanks

    • MS

      Ahlan Kbromay
      ኣህለን ወድ ዓድ። ዮም ኣምዕል ሰኒ ረያሕካኒ። ከብድካ ትብረድ። I’m very pleased, enjoying my tripple Espresso Shot. Vindicated for all the pain some thought I subjected them to. Gracias.
      One of the best Hatetas produced ever, thanks so much. I will create an easily accessible file for future brainstorming exercises. We are talking about things we did or experienced thirty/forty years ago. Memories fade. You made excellent points, and I have nothing to say except to thank you, because, all of the points you made reinforce the things I have been saying in defense of the great EPLF. I HAVE BEEN VINDICATED. Your excellent comment supports my views on:
      (i) EPLF is not reducible to IA
      (ii) You obliterated the wrong assumption that EPLF was anti-intellectualism. I hope folks read and appreciate the activities you and people like you had been engaged in, something I mentioned in passing remarks, top-notch intellectual endeavors.
      (iii) That our ghedli was not your typical “rebel group,” that it had ideas and programs which many fought for; it inspired people to get committed to the cause, and it developed an efficient organizational structure to exploit its meager human resource.
      (iv) In the late eighties, EPLF, as you explained, began opening up through initiatives to create a Broader Front (ሰፊሕ ሃገራዊ ግንባር፡ ሃገራዊ ጻውዒት/ክተት… I’m sure you were among the people who managed the activities geared towards it in the Diaspora. HOLD ON TO THIS; I will return to it.
      (v) Your comment makes it clear that EPLF Hafash Wudubat and Tegadelti were indeed committed to establishing a political system that would include all Eritreans, and we did have the readiness for it. Our political charter said so, our internal communications, propaganda, seminars, etc. stated that clearly. Even the internal magazine/organ “Tegadalay” discussed some of the issues and challenges future Eritrea would encounter. But there was none on how to engage other Eritrean organizations, simply because the EPLF did not recognize their existence (That was part of Beyan and please remember it when you redress it, coming at the end).
      (vi) Also, your comment reinforces my argument that the ideals of the EPLF, and indeed, the PFDJ, was hijacked by a small group in 2001.
      (vii) It also collaborates our suspicion that this small group had been working parallel to the official line of the EPLF (this is also part of what you will have to address, because for the majority of EPLF members plural democracy meant precisely what it implied while for IA and his small clique, it was a matter of tongue-in-chick). I doubt the CC and politburo of the organization were aware of the lurking danger of this parallel mechanism which resulted in hijacking the ideals of the EPLF.
      (vii) I thank you for the fact that you have made the picture full by filling in the blind spots of tegadalay Harbegna (joke) Mahmuday. I know, you guys knew the true behavior of our leaders because they behaved differently when they went abroad. In the Sahel, Wedi-Efrem was just Wedi-Efrem. Sherifo was Sherifo, IA was IA, one of the many tegadelti. But when they go abroad, I understand they were treated like rock stars, and they behaved a bit differently. I also agree with the behavioral changes that came at the end of the eighties where gifts such as clothes, radios, and watches were allowed (I remember the multiband radios were hot items).
      Finally, I still ask you to clarify on this: in my comment, I made it clear that the EPLF was ready to govern, regarding governing capacity ( I mentioned the prototype ministries, and you reinforced that by adding what had been done on areas of research). But you did not answer Beyan’s question. Beyan’s question was more on political infrastructure that would espouse plural Eritrea, or the four Eritrea as I put it: EPLF Eritrea, Occupied Eritrea, ELF Eritrea, and Diaspora Eritrea. In a nutshell, did you come across any function that dealt with how EPLF was going to engage those different Eritreas and particularly how it was going to create an inclusive umbrella where the ELF franchises would be included, where the civil and tegadalai bodies would merge into a national unity government? I alluded to this as the software. Or the roadmap, if you will. I think we the bases believed some reconciliatory beginning would ensue after independence. But IA had a different idea. When he talked about inclusiveness, I think what he meant was what SAAY stated about endogamy or inclusiveness from within the exclusive club called EPLF. I need your input on this. Other than that, you reminded me of many activities that I overlooked, very difficult to summarize everything when you are replying in a real-time fashion, particularly, remembering all activities of the Diaspora would impossible for me. What’s funny is that the Diaspora knew the day-to-day activities of the organization in the field, but we would not necessarily know all the activities of the Diaspora. That’s why I said you made the picture complete. Additionally, ‘Harbegna goita merietu” was in the trenches during the last years of the war, and it was just too hectic to contemplate about political preparations. My observations were mainly on what trickled down to the combat portion of the EPLF.
      Gracias.

      • Ismail AA

        Selamat Ustaz Mahmoud,

        “I doubt the CC and politburo of the organization were aware of the lurking danger of this parallel mechanism which resulted in hijacking the ideals of the EPLF”.

        After reading your post that, by and large, supported the excellent input of Kbrom, I got the urge of asking you the very question I posed to Kbrom whose short answer I could understandd. But your scepticism that the CC and politburo were not aware of two centers of power operatiing, and that one of them succeeded to outmanuver the other, lands on my mind with more questions than answers.

        The question is: could the deployment of forces and resources on the scale issues that Kbrom had explained were duplicitous tactics that could be hidden from the side that lost the game in 2001 as you stated? I mean the operation was so pervasive and conspicuous to be concealed from such highly placed personalities that comprised the G-15.

        • MS

          Ahlan Ismailo
          [Arriving from a long drive; it is too early on my side of the world and triple shots of Espresso would not do any good. So here is my groggy answer to your question.]
          I want to wait for Kbromay’s response before I do my “Twgah’mo” as meleheyna Kibromay put it. I asked him to elaborate on a certain portion of his excellent Hateta. I’m sure he will return with an even more revealing comment. The question Beyan is asking could better be addressed by KIbrom as he was apparently in the front row of the show dealing with research regarding political and diplomatic aspects of the organization. Our foreign missions were manned by people like Kibrom, mostly dedicated entirely to the struggle.

          But I want you to remember Beyan’s question to which my answer was limited. Beyan’s question was: “Was there a department that thought of the day after the fall of Ethiopia, WHAT ERITREA WOULD LOOK LIKE?” [emphasis mine]. The key pointer that attracted my attention was “what Eritrea would look like,” and I had in mind different Eritrea as explained in two of my previous rejoinders. The key question is not whether study papers were prepared. It is whether there was a genuine undertaking by the organization, or as Beyan described it if there was an organ that dealt with preparing Eritrea for the transition to a constitutional democracy, and how the different political stakeholders would be included in the process. Was there an endeavor to detail, for instance, the 1987 program points to policy-level details and were there actions taken to bring Eritreans of all stripes to discuss the next day after independence? From my side, there was no movement towards that end. And just a reminder: the years following 1987 were among the most intensive and relentless ones in EPLF military history. 1987 Kebessa campaign of running garrisons, and Pre-Nadew limited attack on Nakfa front;

          1988: The operation that decimated the Nadew Command; HalHal Mentir Command, encirclement of Keren and an atempt to capture it; months of grinding assaults by the derg to capture the ranges of Rora MensaE and to reverse EPLF gains; Mechanized units first ever tank battlkes at Grat were Ethiopian mechanized and motorized division was routed out and the establishment of Semhar Front (Red Sea coastal line linking with Rora Mensae; 1990 swift attack in Western Ethiopia, where EPLF brigades had to be transported, I don’t know may be thousands of kilometers through Sudanese Territories; Fenkil Operation that captured Massawa; tough attritious battles along the Gindae front (very tough, indeed); Establishement of southern front (liberating Zalambasa to decamhare and the establishment of DEcamere Front linking up with Gindae front; Dankalia campaign; joint operations with EPRDF inside Ethiopia; and the final push to decimate the SEcond Army of Ethiopia in Eritrea. It is my opinion that it was not humanly possible for the combat portion of EPLF (tegadalai) to even fathom about the day after independence. And there was no discussion on that front except the general orientation that it would be pluralistic with a mixed economy. And by that, Tegadalai understood that once we got to independence, they would get a reprieve and the journey of nation-building would be shared by all Eritreans.

          Regarding preparation of inclusive beginning, Kibromay says, “…that decision led to dissolve all the EPLF mass organisations (Hafash wdbat, which infuriated many of us for ever) because the central committee evaluated that EPLF should open its doors to all and that embracing a limited segment of the Eritrean society is not broadening the organisational diversity. The decision of inviting all organizations to the second congress and to Bologna Festival (1987), which was convened under the theme ‘for an inclusive and broad organizational structure’ was part of the all-encompassing efforts.”

          I don’t think Beyan misses the above but it would not be considered inclusive because those were efforts made to broaden the EPLF. The question is what did EPLF do to engage entities that did not fall into its ranks? And I think Beyan is looking answers to those types of questions when he says “what would Eritrea look like?”

          To come to your question, I don’t think the activities were necessarily duplicitous because remember, the people who were leading and overseeing them were the same people who later pushed for democratic transition and because of that ended up in prison. So, I believe the majority of the politburo and CC believed they were headed towards the goals their program had mapped out, which was the establishment of an inclusive Eritrea. My doubt is on whether they doubted if IA could have a different plan, something that most exiled members of the CC hinted out. For instance, in the Afabet meeting of the CC (the last one before independence), they reflected on all the issues that Kibromay detailed and prepared themselves for governing Eritrea. But they did not discuss on how exactly they would tackle the issue of ELF-organizations or people who had been under occupation, how they would merge the fighting force with the civilian population to establish a government that would look like Eritrea, etc. in short, I have not come across any evidence that they discussed on transitional details. So, I believe they believed IA meant what he said in front of them and what he said publicly (the 1990 interview IA made, where he discussed about multicultural, pluralistic society and its challenges and opportunities; mixed economy, the experience of past African governments, our relationship with Ethiopia. Arabs, and the world, etc. So, I’m saying members of the CC and politburo (most) were in line with what the average tegadalai like me thought of the day after independence. IA went solo when he reached Asmara. This was not without prior preparation on his part. He accused his colleagues, members of the CC and Politburo on day one that they were inept and told them they could be disbanded. That tells you that by that time, he had developed his own “unofficial” political structure. And I’m just speculating if they were aware of that reality.

          I hope I gave you an answer that you deserve, Ustaz IsmailAA.

          • Ismail AA

            Dear Ustaz Mahmoud,

            First, I apologize to had not left you rest after that long drive (You know you must be careful when you drive; those young guys do need you). I know you couldn’t due to your respect for an aging knaughty yours truly whose curiosity never lest him stay calm and leav others rest. Your response has come so generous and detailed as we in this forum are acustomed to; I Always remember the contraint of time, as Dis Donc had reminded us.

            It’s very much understandable that ordinary and committed fighters and civil organs had very little amino for such details during those defficult and heady days when to be or not be battles were raging with heavy sacrifices. The ultimate goal of every fighter across the board (all of us where ever we happened to be) was to see Eritrea liberated. The questions we are posing are in retrospect and make us sometimes forget the toughness of those times.

            Thus, it is not the folly of lack of appreciating the difficulty to fathom things that had been laying down and incubating in total secrecy. But the question is, knowing how Isayas had been operating since very early days of the split, how on earth fighters like Petros Solomon and others who were in key places for long time had failed to suspect and take steps in the interest of the programs you and Kbrom have eloquently listed and had comsumed precious resources and time.

            Power and the route to it pass through elimination of men and women in key places like Petros who become victims. And, attaining the goals needed other loyal implementors. That is why I wanted to ask why such necessarily elaborate secret dealings were not exposed and dealt with, at least after 1991. I assume men like Petros were spied on and apprehended by agents from the ranks of the very organs they over saw.
            With many thanks for your time, sir.

          • halafi me(n)gedi

            MS,

            Will veer off a little, but you mentioned a few things here that prompt me to comment now regarding how we got to the sorry situation we are in (people have been commenting about this here from time to time).

            Obviously, multiple factors played role, but I think two things stand out:

            1) Tegadelti: Most Tegadelti were made to feel (not blaming anyone in particular for this), but they were made to feel that their fate is sealed with the eplf/pdfj government and that they will not fare well under any other system. And i am not saying in anyway that they fared better under current gov, but they gave and still give tacit and active approval of the gov. Given they are, no question, the most powerful group of any kind in Eritrea, the position most took is significant contributing factor.

            2) Youth: the fact that the balance tipped toward having the youth to flee instead of stay and force change. As it has become a cliché by now, there are push and pull forces that tipped the balance, but my take of pull and push factors is slightly different. The pull factor, IMO, is not the allure of western comfort, but the ‘a priori’ that is that in the previous generation people (their families) who went abroad instead of staying to fight fared much better after independence, and even much much better after the 98-00 war with Ethiopia. As they say in Bayesian statistics, the stronger the ‘a priori’ the stronger the ‘posteriori’ action/prediction. The push factor, IMO, is not mainly economic hardship or even political oppression , rather a deliberate and relentless effort by the gov of Eritrea to push the youth out. In a way this ‘mikilibat’ is not limited to the youth, but its effect is most pronounced on them. I mean, even those demobilized from the army for health and disability reasons are called up, needlessly, for, God knows what, constantly, making it hard for them to live predictable and stable life. This is because the gov observed that many of those who got demobilized (even the relatively healthy ones) were choosing to stay in Eritrea and the gov saw that as a threat. In any case, I see that the balance starting to tip to the other side, the route to and settling in western countries is not getting easy, and haile mihtsun has made it hard for college graduates to obtain and send their transcripts abroad, that will make some folks to stay put….and hopefully some wind from the south will blow out direction.

            anyway, apologies for the random drop in….

            hm

  • Tzigereda

    Selam Beyan,

    May I….

    You wrote:
    “Dr. Sadia, however, saw certain issues she felt merited discussing out in the open, because, in my estimate, she understood deep down Eritrean feminism would be better served if the issues are brought to this virtual space. Once the physical space was used where women did their program, then the venue needed to move to the virtual spaces like awate.

    But the essence of Dr. Saidia’s article:
    “The central aim of this article is to try to nip the noticeable mimicry of the colonial project in postcolonial world by Eritrean women – wittingly or unwittingly – falling into this essentializing trap, creating a subaltern woman out of Eritreans as this “other” with a small ‘o’ if you’d like”.
    “…it is meant for Eritrean women to avert from falling into the trap of the Western feminism…”.
    .”That the dominant culture dominating the entire narrative…”

    You might have missed my brief comments ( Dr. Sarah’s and others too) to her article. Dr.Saidia’s article was written as a reflection ( she didn’t participate) of the Hague event ( demonstration two days conference) organized by eritrean women for justice in Europe. She was specifically addressing the organizers of this event, and she has the full right to do so. One can make a call, a claim, and even accuse somebody of something based on facts, and exactly this fact is still missing: what makes this event be called “ feminism dominated by a dominating culture group ( Tigrinya?), so that Eritrean women should be warned from falling into the trap of such western feminism?
    My intention is not to reopen the discussion, to be honest am done with it, but I felt you missed the main subject of her article.

    Thank you

  • Ismail AA

    Selam Dr. Beyan,

    This piece has reinforced my little conviction through participation in this forum. Our versatile and intellectually equipped fellows enjoy their role as knowledge disseminators by appending their commentaries by tutoring processes, which I called educating by other means. This contribution has come as no exception. One of the values added is simplification of otherwise complex stuff to levels of ordinary readership. Stuart Hall’s communication theory is an informative case in point. Correlating theoretical information with the ideas and views Dr. Sadia’s article had produced had raised the discussion to more potent and challenging levels. I surmise Dr. Sadia and others have taken note of of the salient points in broader context of this piece. From my perspective I shall make an attempt to scribble a few things in the form of points:

    1. As I hinted in the opening paragraph above, the value and coverage of this article transcended the domestic specifics to general terrain – concepts and contexts in which the issue of women-men relationship in the Eritrean socio-cultural milieu have to be handled. The cultural and social relations that define the status quo cannot be articulated better than the accompanying pictures have exhibited. I mean to say that be it in revolutionary war times or otherwise the reality of the place of women in Eritrea, with allowance of cultural and social variations, is precisely what the pictures depict.

    2.By way of expanding the last point above, the way the Eritrean women and children are treated is not uniform. There are differences depending on how far the cultural and social pyramid is narrow and rigid. Here, old customs and traditions are moderated by religious prescriptions. By the way, the point Kbrom has raised in the context of Tzigerada’s comments for discussion on the issue of cultural variations yesterday and the examples he mentioned are interestingly relevant. They show concrete realities lived in household.

    3. Women’s struggle for liberation and equality in Eritrea would not book break through or cause dent the thick wall of male domination without changing the bread winner’s prerogatives of men and ownership of sources of livelihood such as land. This entails, as in the processes through which women in the advanced societies had passed, education and enlightenment to empower women. Instances in many countries demonstrated that economic uplifting is key to equality in the context of fair governance system that cater for members of society on the basis of constitutionally regulated citizenship that subordinates social and cultural peculiarities and loyalties to duties and rights in common statehood.

    3. The kind of prolonged ad hoc way in which women play roles in wars of any kind cannot be taken as achievements that translate to gaining rights and equality after termination of causes that trigger and fuel wars. Be it in revolutions such as ours and large scale wars in other places, the practical out comes have shown the flaw. The supremacy of culture and social values and norms stay in tact. As soon as wars end, the relationship of men and women remain, and women and men resume their roles in society. What other instances can one need in this connection other than the fate our women after the end of our own revolutionary war. Have not we seen how women soldiers and functionaries, save the well-connected of course, were neglected and humiliated despite the much talked about role they played. As in other wars, in Russia and even USA for example, women were needed to do men’s work in factories and other places to fill in shortages of men. After the wars, the status quo ante was resumed and the struggle for women’s rights needed prolonged feminist movements.

  • Kbrom

    Dear Beyanom

    This essay is not just like any other articles, it is a manifesto for the future of our struggle in the fight against inequality. Its framing is divided in to two important parts – but is written in a way that would convince even the most sceptical men and women.

    Having said that allow me to differ (in terms of priority) on the importance of the role of men.

    Eritrean Feminism should aim to have the least dependency, if at all, on men’s contribution and rely on their own right. That is what tells us the failure of our struggle (Mahmuday see below my twgahmo version to you) and the story of all successful countries including Iceland the country that ranks first in the world for gender equality.

    The success of Iceland is attributed mainly to the women’s collective action, which challenged and protested the monopoly against the power of men over women. They did not ask for the men to grant them their equality or quotas (the theory I strongly oppose) rather they fought back and created alternatives narration to the male dominant “truths”. They won because they started their struggle alone against all odds early on when many societies have been accepting the inequality as their fate and rule of the game. Icelanders women fought alone and partially succeeded 100 years ago when the countries Protestant church succumbed to their strong demand to be granted the legal right to be Protestant priests (1914) and the right to vote and run as political candidates (1915).

    You mentioned the ‘exemplar’ gender roles during the revolution era, make no mistake Beyan the ‘exemplar’ result was not due to the ‘progressive’ ideology this is an organisation which was using the female gender when belittling men (ኣምሓራ ብምብራቕ ተንቀሳቒሰን ኣለዋ); it was a result of the women’s power pushed by the setting and environment that left no other choice but to be what they had to be. There was no ‘housewife’ roles no economic domination, no classes, no women’s dress even.

    One lively document that proves the ‘exemplary’ women’s equality was only the result of the setting is the revisionism that was depicted soon after independence. Those exemplary tegadelti started to betray their wives and opted for the ‘soft’ civil women ሰበይትስ ሰበይቲ ተመሰለት ኢዩ እምበር እንዳተባህለ) the organisations that was seen by many as exemplary front betrayed the women’s issue by dismantling NUEW within few months after independence. Women’s issue was the second causality (first being the war disabled veterans) of the PFDJ’s leadership.

    So back to the main line: take the men’s support as እንተረኸብና ኣይንጸልእ እንተሳኣና ኣይንጸድፍ!

    As for Awate Forum men we can promise not to repeat the past mistakes by the following hash tag. #I promise

    On part two that is related to the Eritrean Revolution – I beg to strongly differ with your ideas and conclusion. I believe the wrong conclusion is due to the wrong bird that ሓርበኛ ተጋዳላይ ማሕሙዳይ gave you; the basis of your information is wrong hence the birds view is a bit blurred because it was flying in a foggy space. I will come back with detailed information on why and how.

    ክሳብ ሽዑ ደሓን የጽነሓና

  • saay7

    Beyan:

    This is a marriage of two articles: Dr Saidia and MS response to a query and I would like to begin with the latter.

    This is your field and you can expound more but in sociology there is the concept of endogamy and exogamy. That is: rules governing how close within your own tribe you can marry (endogamy) and far you can stray (exogamy.) The European royals family was very much governed by endogamy and inbreeding and the side effects are inbreds. I have always thought of EPLF and now PFDJ as a political tribe which is very much governed by something I will call endo-cognition. (Endocognito if we want to coin a phrase and be fancy.) That is: there are beliefs that are sanctioned and beliefs that get you ex-communicated. At the ideological level, this is was now called “progressivism”—social justice, equal development, mother tongue language, guided democracy—but it was absolutely exocognito to veer too far off and demand, for example, freedom of speech, organization and all the values we associate with liberal democratic values. This is why if you find yourself in a debate with a true believer, he will absolutely consider you not only someone who disagrees with him but someone who is a threat to the republic and should never be allowed to set a foot in the country. In short, EPLF then and PFDJ now was always a political tribe. Membership is not based on family background or religion but ones willingness to endorse and work for this endocognition. And this is why the PFDJ shares a lot of the characteristics of inbred systems: it’s deformed and it will take a miracle to reform it, if at all.

    Dr. Saidia’s view, as I understood it, is a call not to make Eritrean feminism synonymous with Tigrinya woman interpretation of feminism. This is a common discourse in, for example, black feminism: you know who said that when people talk about blacks they visualize males and they talk about women’s rights they visualize white women. It was a black woman who said this. I think Dr Saidia either pulled her punches or she didn’t have much material to work with which is why the discussion evolved to something else. (One can also argue it was our way of escapism when most of know new family members who have joined the dungeons after the burial ceremony of Haji Musa.)

    Now on the image accompanying your article. Without googling, do you know the only developing country in the world where girls and women are not responsible for bringing drinking water to the family. And yes, it’s only ONE country which shows you that men all over the world may not agree on much but they sure agree on exploiting girls and women.

    saay

    • Beyan

      Dear Sal,

      I am sold on this ingenuous conceptualizing you just came up with, namely, “Endocognito”, which leads to severing ties at a minutia of deviation that you have captured lucidly. You state thus: “This is why if you find yourself in a debate with a true believer [one who is poisoned by endocognition], he will absolutely consider you (even if you bled for Eritrea for decades) not only someone who disagrees with him but someone who is a threat to the republic and should never be allowed to set a foot in the country. In short, EPLF then and PFDJ now was always a political tribe.”

      I don’t always catch it but there is a weekly program that National Public Radio (NPR) carries which gets aired from your neck of the wood, namely, “The Commonwealth Club”. It so happened I listened to it this morning and they brought a guest speaker who had written a book about American politics where the two parties have but become tribes. The coastal tribe (like California) and then the rest of the field filled with Republicans, where parents now would consider it offensive to their sensibilities if one of their child married someone from the opposite party. This author was making a compelling argument that America has gone tribal, divided along not religious lines anymore, but political lines. The danger she said about the latter is that it has tribal characteristics.

      So, your observations about PFDJ’s tribalism is on the mark. This is why it makes it inconceivable for Higdef to even contemplate about putting a brake on anything it does. As you rightly surmised about kids in their thousands that it is imprisoning them left and right. It spews disinformation the minute it senses Eritreans in diaspora are coming to a common ground, especially, when they happen to be religious leaders, such as that what Saleh G. Johar wrote about some eight months ago. SGJ seemed to anticipate the Eritrean regime would pick up steam when he said this: “The two honorable men in the picture are Shiekh Mohammed Juma Abu Rashid, and Abba Shenoda Haile. The “Eritrean Justice Camp” knows both men who are visible in demonstrations and gatherings to highlight the predicament of Eritreans under the yoke of the PFDJ tyranny” (http://awate.com/ahl-al-kahaf-the-sleepers-of-ephesus/).

      Some eight months later, as you can see now, the Higdef tribe feels threatened and its endocognition is in full swing in trying to tie Abu Rashid with Qatar, Sudan, and Ethiopia, talk about phantom enemy akin to what Bush Junior had characterized Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as the “axis of evil”. Eritrea is now creating a triangle of axis of evil to protect its status as tribally led regime with enemies only existing in its endocognition induced phobia that doesn’t have any resemblance with reality as we are seeing and living it. But, of course, on the other side of it diasporic Eritreans are so fragile they push the pause button whenever Akhirya like uprising occurs, at least, with many of the opposition political groups. Eritrean civilians have shown far more maturity than the political oppositions groups that wouldn’t take up the issue, the recent UN testimony that we’ve heard in this regard was disappointing. The complaints came by of the UN Rapporteur who had to speak up on behalf of Aboy Musa’s plight. Nobody else even would touch the subject as current as March 3rd, 2018.

      Thanks for such original theorizing you just did by combining concepts from the field of social science.

      Cheers,

      BN

      • saay7

        Beyan:

        I don’t know if you have heard of a virulentenly anti-Qatar propaganda pushed by UAE which has many shapes but it churns our non-stop on twitter using the hashtag #Qatarileaks. Remember the demonstration that was held in London when Haji Musa was arrested late last year? Alkazeera Live covered it and one of the people it interviewed is Abu Rashed

        This is how #Qatarileaks covered it on Twitter: that he is the new Qaradawi. That Qatar supports many Eritrean extremists but he has “the most fame and influence and aljazeera made him a public hero.”

        https://twitter.com/qatarileaks/status/932583557486190592

        Imagine this about a guy most Eritrean Muslims had never heard of. So if PFDJ media is doing that now, it’s because it’s essentially become an appendage of UAE after it gave away our port to wage a useless and cruel war on a people who have never done anything to us, the Yemenis.

        saay

        • Beyan

          Dear Sal,

          No. I couldn’t bring myself to make twitter my main staple, though I know a lot of diplomats and politicians, radio personalities, of course, our imbecile in chief at the White House has even made it more popular. But, I am still resisting the temptation to join the chorus for I know that will be another layer of time consuming mechanism that I will be drowned in if I should follow my instinctual suit, if you will.

          Go figure. We are now pawns of the Gulf States who have all the coffers in the world and then some to drown us with their media blitz. Of course, the man at the helm of power in Eritrea loves it when the pot is stirred like, because he thrives in chaos and mayhem. የገበያ ግርግር ለሌባ ያመቻል ይብሉ ኣሕዋትና Ethiopians. Imagine, the opposition lot will be so lost on this because we can’t even keep our priorities straight. We have such a fragile ego that at every turn we come across disagreements, seemingly petty, we just go on to found our own organization. The media enclave is like a wild-wild west, anyone and everyone, who is a mac and a mic in the business of becoming an expert not only on Eritrea but on the entire world affairs. I am feeling this hapless chap, eternally confused by matters of the world that seem to get more abrasive by the day.

          BN

          • saay7

            Beyan:

            Well, that’s one of many strategic blunders our oppo have made if they choose to avoid Twitter. It’s one medium which rewards people with the most followers as they are judged to be the most influential. What that means, per twitter algorithm, is if someone types “Eritrea” on the search bar, what will feature for pages and pages is everything which is posted by twitter users with the most followers who write about Eritrea. Care to guess who that is? It is A-Z PFDJites , YPFDJites and their Western allies which means their narrative of Eritrea (Eritrea is well governed peaceful and fast-developing country with shinning migration) is what the world sees. Every day. This is important because of cross-pollination: the other media (traditional media: print, TV) uses those people as its experts, and quotables on Eritrea.

            A long way of saying ሕሰበሉ All of us should. The way I see it: We are not fighting to win; we are fighting because it is the right thing to do. It’s time we all changed everything we are doing.

            saay

          • Beyan

            Dear Sal,

            It has been one of our serious follies. By ‘our’ I obviously mean those of us whom you in short said “oppo”. Lack of strategic thinking and not separating tactics from strategy, we seem to gallop forth without due consideration for anticipated outcomes – pro or con – it matters not. We seem going ንቕድሚት ጥራሕ will eventually get us there. No conceivable plan of tomorrow and the day after.

            There are ver few people who are explainers-in-chief when it comes to matters as complicated as technology, and you are one of those who can show front-end-user and back-end-user and clearly delineate the two for those of us who fall to the former, we need someone like you and Saleh G. Johar who can really make it digestible for the likes of me who are glad to find a means to express ourselves. Perhaps, a manual of sorts (virtual activism for dummies, if you will) would be needed in how to fight the good fight for the long haul, it is not just about running about out running the menace at home. So, to out-run the man, we have to be very deliberate and smart in the way we use our meager resources of time and energy it takes to keep going as long as you and SGJ have done.

            Sincerely,
            Beyan

      • Paulos

        Selam Dr. Beyan,

        To be honest, I found the usage of the word “Tribalism” to define the division with in religious or political lines a bit of a stretch if not an outright melodrama. And it is being narrated by Steven Pinker and Edward O. Wilson who are considered by many the leading intellectual giants of the century.

        The sharply demarcated dicotomy with in tribalism are life and death where there is nothing in between. Humanity with its ingenuity however, has managed to find a middle ground by creating political institutions where tribalism is graduated into a civilized society. As such, it is anachronistic in terms to use “Tribalism” to define current political realities.

        • Beyan

          merHaba Dottore,

          I hope and trust that I am acting like a “drama queen”. And that I really hope your optimistic view rules the day – or to be literal rules the night, after all, it is night time out here. But, reading your entry lifts that veil of the dark night, the midnight assessment I am gravitating towards, and turns it into midday- bright-sun-light analysis that you furnish. I rather like the latter, for I am about to hit the sac now and what better way to end the day than with an optimistic note so I don’t have to wake up in the wee hours of the night with a nightmare. Instead, your note can only bring the sweet dreams of type when one to retire for the night. Many thanks dottore.

          Sincerely,
          Beyan

          • Paulos

            Sure thing Doc. I am actually already in bed quasi half asleep. Australian and European Awatistas are already up and kicking. No wonder they say, the Sun never sets on Awate. Thanks much again! G. night!

        • saay7

          Paulos:

          First thing when you wake up, read this:)

          In Africa, political tribes and political tribalism is an evolution of the demographic one we are all familiar with. And it’s the worst kind of tribalism because, cloaked in the States uniform, it demands the State’s monopoly to violence.

          http://rossy.ruc.dk/ojs/index.php/ocpa/article/viewFile/3608/1790

          saay

          • Paulos

            G. morning Sal,

            Thanks for the link. I first thought Muhamuday wrote it for it is one damn long Hateta. Will try to read it on the weekend. Thanks much again.

  • MS

    Hayak Allah Ustaz Beyan.
    First, I want to report to the vice squad of the Awatista nation that all I’m going to say about you is not meant to shower you with praises for picking my comments to make a point. No money had changed hands [haha..], and no reward is awaiting Dr.Beyan.
    With that out of my way: I’m humbled, thank you for considering comments I made in real time, without much of a thought, and before getting my triple Espresso shots. I know they now make more sense that you put them in their right places,
    Alright. This article is indeed a treat for those who crave for some intellectual underlinings for things they observe. Some of us observe and record things but are not able to report or narrate them. We keep them within ourselves and take our observations to the grave unless nudged. Few active observers volunteer to share what they have experienced without necessarily bothering to analyze them. Some folks examine their observations or the second-hand information they obtain but fall into the wrong crevices because of the baggage of biases they carry; they could not choose the right methodology. They go for the easiest ones that would come up with a final product that would affirm their beliefs. Luckily, we have some astute observers who take their time, bring all available tools, and choose the right ones. The final product is one that passes the test of time.
    This article gives the reader theoretical background and intellectual spicing that the reader is left to devour it on his/her own pace. Thanks for connecting the threads seamlessly. Man, You have an artistic expression that could unlock and let flow out your deep thinking, something essential for such intricate subjects be available for folks like me.
    The central line that I would like to augment boils down to making the issue of women as being the issue of society, as you put it, “… if we want to change matters the last thing that needs to happen is for each to stay in their corner. The less we interact with each other, the more the gaps in the thinking stays entrenched […] Men are also victims of rigid cultural norms that were instilled in them in how to think, how to view women, how to treat or mistreat women according to the cultural dictates. This is not men bashing, but women affirmation, an affirmation that’s long overdue. ”
    To this end, one of our communities held yesterday a commemoration of March 8. [Bless Eritreans, we have many communities within in a town and many organizations for a cause.]
    I can report to you that I saw a quite different way of organizing and a unique vibe where the organizers were young people from the community, and an a venue where real people, I mean real Eritrean women from the community were honored for their achievements and the service they rendered to their community. The audience was young and the atmosphere was warm, full of promising and rising young stars. I was so happy to see that. At the end of the celebration, one of the fathers, an ex-tegadalai (not me) was given a chance to speak. He asked:
    Who gives birth to an inventor?
    Audience: a woman
    The father: Who gives birth to a pilot?
    Audience: a woman
    The father: Who gives birth to a doctor?
    Audience: a woman
    The father asks about who gives birth to the poet, the leader, the thinker, etc.
    Audience: a woman.
    Then, the father concluded by saying, ” Yes, a woman gives birth to all of us. But she does not do it by herself. There is a man involved in the conception of all of us. Therefore, the issue of women belongs to all of us.
    KUDOS TO OUR SEATTLE YOUNG LEADERS.
    Thanks, again.

    • Paulos

      Selam Muhamuday,

      As the French say it, “Cherchez la femme” not in a literal context but in a good way. Another great sort of half Hateta.

  • Haile S.

    Selam Beyan,

    It is ingenious that you brought Dr Sadia’s interrogation and Mahmoud’s Hateta (a dissertation) on the operating table just preparing the materials and putting drapes on the area of interest for the rest of us to dissect. As a great professor, instead of giving the first stroke of the scalpel, you handled us the various blades to use, with finesse. Dr Sadia’s interrogation is on a patient who is reserved, doesn’t want to give us a lot of history, because she was not sure or was apparently not into the deeper parts of the supposed she-patient’s intimacy. You Beyan, you are saying, which I totally agree BTW, if the intimacy holds the key issues, let us, the men, be part of it. We certainly are capable of helping our complementary body we are resposible for causing it’s suffering. On the other hand, Mahmoud is inciting us to use his living body to be dissected practiced and studied in order to resuscitate a healthy one out of it, without over-covering and without exhibitionism.
    Thank you again. BTW, your invitation for implication in our social illness had something to do with Kbrom’s call for self analysis on another thread. Hopefylly, we will not end up saying we are all ፈሽኳላት (I am refereing to Amanuel Sahle’s Zaric (ዛር) flagellation on another website).

    • Beyan

      Dear Haile S.,

      You know, of course, for a metaphor (ውስጠዘ) to hold it needs to apply throughout a particular thought process that one is using it for. A lot of times, writers begin to use ውስጠዘ without making sure they can take it to its logical end. But, one can immediately see from the get go in how astutely and vividly you were taking your readers into the metaphorical (ውስጠዘኣዊ) surgical room and the associated instruments that each of us might use to contribute into the notions of the collective historical and social spheres and their attendant variations thereof.

      Indeed, you are, I am beginning to notice becoming like a kindred spirit in more ways than I care to mention here, gathering form the kinds of quick off the cuff responses you give that come laced with vivid coining of words, such as “she-patients”. Indeed, theorizing from the lived experience is a scholarly inquiry that many fields embrace. Stuard Hall (1990), for example, states that “[t]he ways in which black people, black experiences, were positioned and subjected in the dominant regimes of representation were the effects of a critical exercise of cultural power and normalization…[in which] had the power to make us see and experience ourselves as ‘Other’”. It is this ‘othering’ with small ‘d’ that Dr. Sadia used I find fascinating in its applicability in a form of internalized (mis)representation that our culture teaches us to designate our women in.

      So, the way in which you brought several conversations from various threads into one-fold is a mark of a learned man who can the connections that we are making, yet, we may not even realize it we are doing just that. I certainly haven’t seen Kbrom assertion, but “self-analysis”, certainly fits the mold quite succinctly. You’ve even managed to bring Amanuel Sahle’s piece, which I was really tempted to attempt to translate it to English, a piece I read that left its indelible mark on me, notwithstanding, the self “flagellation” that you are referencing appears to come towards the concluding remarks of his piece. I wish you can tie that with what’s being discussed here, because it is an important component to the tendency of us Eritreans now days becoming rather overly critical of our sense of being to a point of questioning our Eritrean identity – Not that Amanuel Sahle is doing that. But, he comes close to it by way of insinuating to the successive colonial legacy of Italians, Turks, and the like.

      Cheers,
      Beyan

    • Beyan

      Dearest Brother Mahmoud,

      There you go! The Seattle Eritrean local community captured it all for me, especially, the chanting and the counter chanting of the father. Of course, the hope is that chanting will translate to practicing it in our daily lives. If anywhere such ambiance is conducive it is while we are breathing the aura of freedom. So, consciousness raising seems on a full swing gathering from the Seattle story you related. What a timing though, the article came in a nick of time – The AT, I ain’t mad at you. I knew all along you would publish it at the right time, gathering from Mahmoud’s report, you sure did an awesome job.

      At any rate, MS, I wasn’t going to let the primary source treat you gave Awatawyan and let it rest in peace in the archival dust, which would be next to impossible to unearth several years from now let alone for our future historians who will be wallowing in this kind of inquiry when we are all gone and done with our worldly affairs. So, we made it ‘googlable’ now, that’s what matters. The rest will be left for the professional historians to contend with it. Alemseged Tesfai or someone like him this pick his fancy and begin yet another project in which he may pick it up and interview you and many other tegadeltis like you and come up with a parallel narrative that captures Eritrean contemporary history as he has done starting with the second half of the last century. I know, it is a pipe-dream, but then you never know, you just never know, bro.

      BN

  • Paulos

    Selam Dr. Beyan,

    Ars longa, vita brevis. That is precisely the reason literature as an art or a beautiful writing like yours makes life subservient to art. Thank you.

    You asked us to quiz and scan our respective attention span as we listen to a speech or read an article where Hall compartmentalizes the quality of retaining information. It really got me thinking and asked myself where I would fall if I was to read Dr. Saida’s article again for instance. I would say neither. I say this not to be rude to her but I say it respectfully. By and large, there was lack of clarity in her article at least to me.

    It is rather difficult to make the argument that, EPLF was a male dominated Front simply because it was Isaias dominated Front. In a strange way, not only one can not say any different about post-Ghedli Eritrea, female representation is more prevalent in the prison dungeons than in the cabinet simply because Eritrea is not male dominated nation but again Isaias dominated nation.

    • Beyan

      Selam Dr. Paulos,

      Thank you for the lavishing words, especially, coming from someone like you – I really appreciate it. I agree with you, much as one couldn’t claim that EPLF was a bastion of liberation of Eritrean women, because our women participated in every sector of the organization, but it paved the way toward seeing our women as part and parcel of every facet of the fighting forces. Unlike in the US, for example, women were not allowed to be in combat setting until in recent years. In our case, was it a necessity for the much needed “manpower” (for lack of a better term) that made it possible for our women to be in all of the mechanized facilities during the liberation era, the question remains unanswered. A whole lot of stuff is so ripe for exploration as we have talented men and women who can do the needed research to help close the gap of knowledge. But, of course, this is next to impossible to do, nevertheless, I am thoroughly pleased that historians like Alemseged Tesfai continue to manage to produce historical narratives without getting in trouble with the regime. Hope he continues to record Eritrean history, a history whose primary sources are being reduced each time we lose our older generation men and women of letters.

      BN

  • blink

    Dear Beyan
    You said “It is in our attitude. It is in the way we men have learned from an early age that they are our inferiors, we, their superiors.” really? Where do Eritrean men learn this ? In the churches and Mosques , I guess because some of our kunama do have power that some our Tigrinya and Tigre did not .

    By the way , why is the picture all the Tigrinya women , I mean why not from other ethnic groups? Any hidden messages the readers need to think and interpret as they wish .

    Again in your far reaching point you said “The culture, the tradition, art, education, literature, language, politics, economics, all are the domain of men” Yes 100% true but I have to ask again where is the most influential factor in this ? I mean your religion.
    While I accept all your points of MS you failed to give light to the short comings of the Dr. I mean think if she will write an article about a women meeting held in Riyadh? She will not because here dream was just that kind of feminism at the gate of hell . All in all many good and educational things in your article.

    • Beyan

      Selam blink,

      For adding criticality to the “picture”. The question of image is a matter of editorial decision what they choose to juxtapose to the article is completely their discretion. I had no say in it. I am always amazed at the choice of editorial images, they are right on target. The image in Dr. Sadia’s article was part of the narrative. In this case, it is a supplement to the story. I can’t possibly add anything more to that.

      As for the question of “religion”, you raise an excellent point. This is why I stated that whatever I miss, awate forumers will help me in the clarification process. I wasn’t trying to omit it, but wanted it to be a sub-discussion and not necessarily the nerve center of the subject I am writing about. Of course, there is no denying it that religion is inculcated within our cultural traditions, languages, but it merits a category of its own. After all, religion is one major category that clearly defines gender roles to a point of some advocating that men were created in the image of God I am not sure how they would characterize in whose image were women created? All and all, it is the religious institutions that are upholders of cultural tradition of patriarchy in the name of religion. But, I didn’t want this conversation to be centered along religious lines, because in the end, one will hit a cul-de-sac out of which there is only U-Turn to square one.

      Points well taken, blink.

      • blink

        Dear Beyan
        I am sure if this was your research paper, you would have raised religion influence in our society, especially on women, and I know for sure you need no one to remind you about it but since this is our home , I thought to say something about it.

        About the picture, well it was not my idea to ask you to . Someone understood the picture in a very bad way ,in which it struck me like a lightning. And I defended beyan the writer by saying you wouldn’t possibly think such deeply dotted kind of offensive to the Tigrinya women .

        I will wait the editors say something about the picture, why not a Muslim women fetching water or may be from all our social diverse women ?

        • Beyan

          Dear blink,

          Your criticality about the picture is interesting, to say the least. At first glance, when the image accompanying the article, what I saw was hardworking Eritrean women being depicted to show Eritrean women’s resolve. They toil, they labor, they do it all, yet, our society keeps them subservient to the men’s whims. Your assertion reminded of a piece BBC Tigrinya news did on a woman from Tigray doing farming, traditionally, work that was left for men. I was so moved with her story. Your take is interesting to me, but that’s the extent and the context in which I pictured the picture in my head. I really appreciate your perspective, blink.

          BN

          • Beyan

            Dear blink,

            The more I look at these pictures the more it reminds of my sisters growing up, not necessarily the ማ ይ ምዉራድ part, that was taken care of thanks to being city dwellers, we didn’t have to resort to that. But from the sociocultural perspective in the highlands, work was gender specific. So the hard work is no less the same that I see in these four young women. Consider this from up-close-and-personal:

            Growing up, we the boys did next to nothing by way of household chores. Mind you, everything that was on the ground is fair game to be kicked like a soccer ball, even empty መቕድሕ ማይ and አብሩቕ were there for us boys to play around with. Whilst, my sisters took care of every conceivable household chores, from cooking to ሐዊ ምጉሃርን ምድጓልን; from making all of the beds every morning to helping prepare breakfast to washing our clothes on weekends.

            What do you reckon we boys did to help in the household, the closest that one can consider work was ironing. My father or my mother who taught whoever was the oldest male to iron, that’s all I recall seeing my older brothers do. By the time, it was my turn to start ironing, I may have done it for one year, at most, off I was gone for good into the world of exile. The other household chore we boys did was writing a letter, this was my favorite one. When my older brothers were gone forever, I was the one who did the letters on my parents’ behalf to whomever it is they wanted us to address it to. They would dictate me in what to say, and I would be creative in making it sound even better than the way they said it, brownie points were the smile of encouragement with a caveat of አገንዕ’ዚ ወደይ was the kind of ሞቕሺሽ I savored. So, the image accompanying the article, I saw it in that vein, blink.

            BN

        • Saleh Johar

          Selam Beyan and Blink,

          Beyan, what rational thinking do you see in Blinks fault-finding? Nothing if you ask me 🙂

          You google for a representative image and you chose the best you can get. If you want to make a political statement, you will be careful in what you choose. So, that is why our people say, Hakhele kab hamema. In Arabic they say, Hafiz alnuqsan, or fault-finders. You appear to be one here. Not everyone thinks the way you do and you have to give that due consideration. At the end, no many people subscribe to the idea of, singers for example, if they mention one town, they have to mention all the towns of in Eritrea: qual Keren, gual Agordat, gual Adi Kieh, gual Mendefera, gual Asseb, gual Nakfa, gual Tessenei, gual Barentu, gual Bats’e, etc. Or if they utter the name of one river, you know ruba Barka, then Ruba Anseba, then, Mereb, then Gash, they Zara, then Nevagede, will follow in a childish monotonous lyric–and they go on and on until they consume all known rivers. Have you seen people say, Allah/Egzabhere yeHagezkum–as if the Christians and Muslims have two different Gods and they have to mention duplicate divine names thinking they are being fair! If they name Mohammed they have to name Tesfai, etc… that is superficial and I suggest you come out of it.

          • Beyan

            Thank you Ustaaz Saleh for giving blink the editorial perspective, of which many of us are not privy to, but somehow, awate seems to be able to pull a perfect fit. That’s something I seldom put my hands on because, frankly speaking, why rock the boat when it is floating mightily and it is less work for me besides. And the creative mind of awate editors is on par and more than I anticipate each time, which is why before I read any articles the images that accompany smoothly draw me in to contemplate, you do a might good job. I just added

            In fact, while I was penning my note below to blink, you’ve added yours. And, what I have responded fits perfectly here. Hence, I am just going to copy and paste it here instead and delete the one below.

            Dear blink,
            The more I look at these pictures the more it reminds of my sisters growing up, not necessarily the ማ ይ ምዉራድ part, that was taken care of thanks to being city dwellers, we didn’t have to resort to that. But from the sociocultural perspective in the highlands, work was gender specific. So the hard work is no less the same that I see in these four young women. Consider this from up-close-and-personal:

            Growing up, we the boys did next to nothing by way of household chores. Mind you, everything that was on the ground is fair game to be kicked like a soccer ball, even empty መቕድሕ ማይ and አብሩቕ were there for us boys to play around with. Whilst, my sisters took care of every conceivable household chores, from cooking to ሐዊ ምጉሃርን ምድጓልን; from making all of the beds every morning to helping prepare breakfast to washing our clothes on weekends.

            What do you reckon we boys did to help in the household, the closest that one can consider work was ironing. My father or my mother who taught whoever was the oldest male to iron, that’s all I recall seeing my older brothers do. By the time, it was my turn to start ironing, I may have done it for one year, at most, off I was gone for good into the world of exile. The other household chore we boys did was writing a letter, this was my favorite one. When my older brothers were gone forever, I was the one who did the letters on my parents’ behalf to whomever it is they wanted us to address it to. They would dictate me in what to say, and I would be creative in making it sound even better than the way they said it, brownie points were the smile of encouragement with a caveat of አገንዕ’ዚ ወደይ was the kind of ሞቕሺሽ I savored. So, the image accompanying the article, I saw it in that vein, blink.

            BN

          • iSem

            Hi Saleh and also blink
            I always wonder when ppl say Amlak/Allah. Speaking of songs, ppl take it for granted that other languages must be sang in a wedding More than a decade ago an Eritrean Saho/Asawurta (take your pick) was getting married and the groom refused to play a Tigrinya song and many ppl were mad, my response was this is not kfli bahli, we cannot be expected to play all 9 languages in a wedding. Leave the us alone.
            Blink” if you have pictures of other ethnic women fetching water on their donkeys with that animal skin container, what ever they call send it awate, otherwise there is nothing in the pic that says these are tigrinya, how do you know that, how about if their are Jeberti, whose share attire and hairdo with the tigriniya?
            Most importantly , we must be haunted by this pic it is representative of the hard work all Eri women do, this fake equality that you try to push is degrading what Beyan is saying, what Drs Sadia and Sarah are saying, Eritrean women are bigger than the 9 ethnic group that stripes some of their ethnicity and doles it to others who do not exist/democile in Eri, the willy-nilly of changing names of ethnicity and merging some with others the social experiment that has no anthropological basis, just a whim of groupies almost akin the flag and June 20
            The point is that the suffering of Eri women has intensified and we are doing nothing about it. Their work has increased starting from th absurdity of fighting against dual oppression with dual membership and women joined women’s organization and workers or students union, this means they had two pay two monthly dues and attend two meetings.Who ever came up with that idea was drinking dumu dumu, but that is fine, one can drink whatever they want, most important Askalu M rubber stamped it.
            Stick the issue blinkay, ops, I assumed you are Tigre, no I think u are shimaglay:-)

          • blink

            Dear SG and semere
            I apologize for carrying someone’s question, I stated to Beyan that was not my point but someone who just think about it and I asked , You may remember this , exactly before one year this specific picture was in Assenacom in article about women. Is there any special thing about this women ? I am not fault finder to score anything plus this is a forum where people are free to question anything that believes need help to understand.

          • Saleh Johar

            Hi Blink,
            Yes. It’s a free forum but that is not the question here. It’s free and that is why you have the right to comment and others have the right to reply to you.

          • blink

            Dear SG
            Why don’t you upvote my apologies and done with it or educate people on how this particular picture is able to be used in two Eritreans website ? What’s special about this ?

      • Amanuel Hidrat

        Selam Beyan,

        “Men was created in the image of God.” “Men” in the context of this verse is “men” as “ወድሰብ” and not “men” as “ሰብኡት”. Just s little correction,

        • Beyan

          MerHaba Amanuel,

          Thank you for the quick correction. I had it in mind to mention the “man” being references as in “mankind” which includes both genders. I stand corrected.

          Cheers,
          Beyan